ORAMM Update

I have a nice video of the Kitsume downhill all set to view. BUT the internet at our timeshare is quite possibly the slowest I have ever encountered. YouTube told me it would take over 10 hours to upload. So you are just going to have to wait a day or so to see what the riding is like here. (Well unless you are in the race, or have done the race, or happen to have ridden here, then you know.)

It’s looking like the course will be on the wet side, but hopefully not soupy. It’s been raining here a good bit this week, and the humidity is so high, nothing seams to dry out. I think that 500 bikers will splash some of the water off the course.

Anyway, while you are waiting for me to get to some faster internet A story for you….

Remember the Whiteface race this year? Remember how I passed a cross bike with an exploded pedal? (It wasn’t a cross bike by the way. But you will have to read to see what it was. In my quick view I saw drop handles and thought cross…) Well I got a comment yesterday on this very blog, from that very person. Here is the story of the exploding pedal. Enjoy.

I am heading out for a very very light ride.

ORAMM – The Road Trip

Greetings from Lake Lure North Carolina. Lake Lure is close to Asheville, a crunchy little oasis in North Carolina. And probably for the sake of the next couple of days of posts, close to Old Fort North Carolina, home of ORAMM. (That stupid little ticker just keeps counting down……)

North Carolina is an “interesting” place.

They have cheap gas (we drove). Very nice.

They also had a tattoo parlor in the truck stop. No one in my family chose to utilize that service. But rest assured, there was a line for a truck stop tattoo (no I am not joking).

They have mountains.


(That’s the view from the timeshare we are staying in.)

They (apparently) have rules.


Bailey was the first to see the rules. And of course needed to get out the soccer ball right then and there. The bike riding thing is going to be a problem as well (since we are here for a bike race and all!). I broke that rule about an hour after we got here…..on a nice piece of single track…..on the timeshare property. North Carolina also has confusion.

They don’t have sushi (well in Lake Lure anyway). But that’s OK. On the way down we stopped in Annapolis to visit friends and eat at Joss (our favorite sushi place). Annapolis has sushi.


Well Annapolis has a lot less sushi since we visited…


Sushi is very serious business in my family. As you can see the boat was decimated by my pirate children and our friends.

But back to North Carolina. Besides mountains, right now they also have mud.


Well they have mud, but also they have red clay. Try an experiment. Grab a slab of clay (the standard grey clay is OK, the physics here are the same!). Get it wet. Feel the traction you get. Now bike on that. But just to make it “fun” bike down a hill on that. Welcome to ORAMM.

The picture was taken at the bottom of the Kitsume section. Dave and I pre-rode that portion of the course. Here an elevation profile will help.


We rode from the mile 2.5 to mile 12.5 section. It was about 3000 ft of climbing. You can extrapolate the rest. (BTW. Did you notice we get to do that twice in the race. VERY exciting!)

That climb was very do-able because in North Carolina (unlike in Leadville) they also have OXYGEN!

Today we are planning on pre-riding the Blue Ridge Parkway and down “Heartbreak Ridge”.

And to close, they even have birthdays in North Carolina.

Happy Birthday to my awesome wife Coreen. Who turns the perfect age today!



I went to pick up my bike from the shop this afternoon. The bike that I dropped off on Sunday for some maintenance. The bike that they told me would be done yesterday. The bike that wasn’t done yet today. The bike that is being packed up to go to a race tomorrow morning, early. The bike I am going to have to go back to town later today to get.

I try to support by local bike shop when I can. We have two in my town. Right now I am irritated with both. One shop, where I have made most of my purchases (read I have bought more than one, not inexpensive, bike there) has an owner who is sometimes “grumpy”. When I went in there earlier this week to see about some bearings for a headset I was lectured to about how I need to be specific about what I need and how unhelpful it is to come in and ask questions about stuff when I don’t have those details. (BTW, the bearings I needed for my headset only have one size, I know I checked before I went down.) We could have had the same conversation in a more helpful and friendly way. I didn’t go back to get the bearings for my headset. (He also was short with my brother when my brother was up for the Wilmington race and needed an emergency bleed for his brakes.)

The other bike shop is an all around outdoor store. They do bikes, canoes/kayaks, camping, climbing, etc. They do sell a lot of bikes and have a bike shop. That’s where my bike is now. Part of the reason I took it there is the other LBS is old school and this bike is decidedly not old school. But seriously, the bike has been there for 5 days now. Just a brake fluid change and two new cables. They know I am leaving tomorrow and they know I am going to a race.


I think that once I get back from ORAMM I am going to learn how to service my hydraulic disk brakes myself. Time to become truly  self sufficient. (Now if I only had a headset tool…….)

5:30 pm: Update. I am home now with my bike. When I got to the shop the second time today to get it it was being worked on. My rear brake was not bleeding properly and was mushy (thats why I brought it in. Periodically it would just not engage). We determined that there was a leak in the cylinder somewhere. The person who was fixing the bike went home and got a rear brake off of one of his bike so that I had something to race while we try to get mine warrantied. I am VERY appreciative of that. I do wish that they had gotten to my bike before today so it wasn’t so much of a fire drill to get it up and running. Brenden did a nice job today, they need more staff.

Random thoughts

It’s a training rest week. Not much going on. Kind of like the quiet before the storm. Today’s post: Random Thoughts……


1. ORAMM is fast approaching. That means lots of fast steep down hill. THAT means lots of stress on my bike (well and me too ;) ) So I made a command decision……. Time for a brake job! I like to service my own bike, but I have never serviced hydraulic brakes before. This is probably not a good time to learn. So my bike is at the bike doctor getting a little preventative care. Brakes are definitely something I want for that race.

2. Next year is shaping up in my mind a little bit race wise. I think its going to be the year of the NUE. There are several that are close to home. Easy trips. Hard races. Also hoping to get more of the Root 66 races in. That was fun (I promise no more “novice” racing).

3. I am a little sad I won’t be going to Leadville this summer. A little. Dave… rock it for Team Fatty!

4. The cottage got sided this week. So pumped to see it in a couple of weeks.




After. (yeah, its the same cottage)

Coreen and I talked. It WILL be habitable next summer.

5. I am spending so much time with my brother and his family this summer its almost like we live in the same place.

6. I have some friends that were climbing animals on their bikes last week. Like to the tune of 22k+

7. It’s not a good year to be a favorite at the Tour de France. Ouch.

8. I went to see Cats Friday night. The result was an ear worm from the play on Sunday for 5 hours. Ouch.

9. Summer is full on in the North Country. That can only mean Luge season is right around the corner.


Ramping up, Amping Down….

Somewhere in Potsdam……

Please, please, quiet. I have called this press conference to answer a few questions about ORAMM. In the interest of fairness, please raise your hands and I will call on you one at a time. Umm. Yes…….. Yeti?

“Well I am the only one here. And really I don’t exist except in your brain. It’s not much of a press conference.”

Thanks for pointing that out Yeti. I am dissapointed that no one from Velonews came for this. You would think that being a Fat Cyclist sponsored rider would create a buzz. But given I am learning how to be a pro cyclist on $5 a season instead of $10 a day, I guess the fact that you showed up is about the best I could expect. Do you have a question or are you just here to torment me?

“Seriously, are you teasing me? You know Sasquatch is my cousin right?”

Point taken. Ask away.

“There is a rumor that you have declared a media blackout ahead of ORAMM is that correct?”

Yes it is.

“What do you mean by a media blackout?”

I mean that I am not reading any stories or reports about ORAMM leading up to the race.


Well there are two reasons. First, the only accounts I can find of ORAMM are from stupid crazy people who don’t prepare, or are sick the night before, or bike 20 miles to the race and then race it. Common thread in all of those reports is that they finish like 1st in their age group, or 10th overall or something stupid like that. That just makes me sick. Rider lies. ‘I’m not feeling very good today, I will probably be slow.’ Not helpful.


Oh, yeah second. They all say pretty much the same thing. The race is brutal.

“But you knew that.”

Yeah, but I am trying to forget that little part. Look remember Leadville?

“How could I forget? I love the part where you hit the pavement at the finish line.”

AFTER the finish line.

“OK ‘after’ the finish line. I think you were technically falling before it.”

Shut up Yeti. You point is?

“What does that matter? You know this race is going to be hard too.”

When I do something like this, if I look at the totality of it, it becomes big. By not looking or thinking about the sum of it I can break it down into little pieces. Leadville was really 5 climbs, 5 descents and some “flat stuff” in between. Even Columbine breaks down into smaller parts. One thing at a time. It’s the same with ORAMM. Get up the first climb. Get down the backside (remembering that sometimes it is faster to walk a steep downhill than ride it). Up the second climb, Etc.

“How’s that working for you?”

Meh, not bad right now. Anyway hearing that the race is hard, from people who are winning it is not instructive. So no more reading. Ready to preride some of the course and see what it is really about. Did I hear a door open? Is that the guy from Velo?


Sigh…..You would think they would be interested. A story about a guy who isn’t a great technical mtb’er in a fairly technical endurance race would seem to have a lot more possibility than talking to someone like Jeremiah Bishop or Drew Edsall.

(BTW. My brother designed Drew’s website this spring. He did a nice job I think. And regardless of what happens next week Drew did another great job getting me ready this summer.  Thanks Drew! If you are looking for a coach, you should think about Drew.)


Off the bike

July the 4th this year was decidedly not a bike time, but that’s OK.

I was in Wisconsin for my grandmother’s 90th birthday. It was a time to visit with her and other family that I haven’t seen in a long time.

I love going to my grandma’s house and taking care of her for a little while. I get to cook for her and play cards with her and just talk with her about things. No pressure, no agenda.

I wrote about my grandma last year. Here is the post. It says everything there is to say. Grandma looked great last weekend. She’s a tough woman. All of her family (except for two grandchildren, which put us somewhere in the 60′s for direct family range at the party) were at the party and she had a blast.

The hardest part of these visits for me is always the leaving. In many ways Tilden Wisconsin is home for me and every time I leave I feel like I am leaving home to go out into the world.

This visit I did not get a bike and so I was off my bike for 5 days. Instead of riding we went tubing on a river (zone 0 on the old heart rate and RPE for that one) and went to some “interactive” fireworks (zone 5 at points :) ). It was a little bit of well deserved rest for my legs (well except for the run I went on. Holy heck, my legs are not in shape for any sort of running right now!)

Time to make the final push for ORAMM!

Picture of the Day



It does not happen often…..

If you ride a lot then you know that most of the time it feels like the wind is in your face for an entire ride. Just when you think the turn you are going to make is going to transform that headwind into a tailwind, you find out you have more headwind. More grind.

But. But every so often you get a ride that feels like you have the wind at your back the entire ride.

Yesterday I rode one of those rides.

When I got on my bike I felt, well, good. Strong. I don’t know if it was just  the fact that I had a mentally good ride the day before and I was refreshed in my brain, or if my legs have just “adjusted” somehow to the week of training “fun” post Whiteface. But when I got on my bike my legs felt good. The first 3 miles of my ride were into a nasty headwind, but I felt good. Down onto the drops, solid strong tempo. Then I turned the corner and the headwind became a tailwind.

I had 1200 ft of climbing to get out of the way. It was like magic. Refreshed legs helped me to power up the climbs. The tail wind felt like a gift from the universe, a gentle push helping  me up the hills. Where I felt spent on this route two days earlier, I felt strong and fast. One of the hills on this route has a Strava segment on it. I knew the weather conditions were ripe for a fast climb. Would my legs give me enough? Could I possibly best my PB on this hill? Time to see. Up I went. (Author’s note: I tied my PB. TIED it. Sigh. Just a little bit of humble pie from the universe to remind me to keep working :) )

My route then turned and had a 11 mile long downhill/flat section. The wind? Magically still at my back. There are few things better than a flat or slightly downhill section of nicely paved road where you can put your bike into the biggest gear you have and crank with all of your might. (I would saw achieving real flow on a beautiful piece of single track would be one of those things, but I digress.)  Road bikes are made to go fast. Bombing down a steep hill is going fast, but that’s gravity doing the work.  There is just enough tension when I am bombing down a hill, just enough, to keep flow at bay. No, when the speed comes from me, its intensely satisfying. I found flow on my road bike in this fast flat section. I kept a 24.7 mph average for this section of the ride, never falling below 20 mph. Yeah I know the wind helped, and yeah I know the grade averaged -1% for this stretch. I DON’T CARE! It was supper fun to pound away. 20 minutes of pure bike bliss.

I needed to get a little more time in for this ride and so I turned out of town. The wind? It still felt like it was at my back. Nice! Then back to town. How the heck is the wind still at my back? Don’t question, just turn the cranks.

My ride ended 30 miles after it started with a 19.3 mph average. Not freaken bad considering the climbing at the start of the ride.

And in proper fashion, well, my ride ended at the local ice cream shop, where I met my family. I got a peanut butter bliss sunday with chocolate ice cream.